BC's Okanagan Valley hosts wine and food fests

Thanks to a delightful wine-tasting trip through British Columbia last fall, the email immediately grabbed my attention: Starting in late April, the Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley will be presenting what are being called the province’s “most eclectic food festivals.”

Entering the Oliver region
Festivities start with the Osoyoos Oyster Festival April 22 through 25. Guests will be able to taste oyster dishes created by the South Okanagan’s best restaurants and chefs, perfectly paired with wonderful wines from many of the Oliver Osoyoos wineries, and enjoy live music and dancing from 7pm to midnight.

The highlight of the Oyster Festival will be the signature Art of the Oyster Pearl Gala on April 25 at Watermark Beach Resort, which my wife and I stayed at during our trip and thoroughly enjoyed. Read my review of the property here.

Tickets to the Oyster Festival cost C$48 and are available via EventBrite.

On May 2, visitors will have the chance to Pig Out at the 4th annual party at Covert Farms. Running from 1 to 4pm, guests will be able to join the 36 wineries of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association at the al fresco tented affair, which showcases new release wines and fan favorites.

Living room at the Watermark
In addition, the skills of chefs from eight local restaurants will be put to the test when they are challenged to be creative with the theme, “If pigs could swim.” Chefs will combine pork with the best foods from the water, ranging from seaweed to local salmon.

Pig Out tickets are C$49and are available on-line. The ticket price includes entertainment by local musicians, and a souvenir wine glass as well as the food and wine. Helicopter rides over McIntyre Bluff will also be available for C$50 per person. The Watermark Beach Resort is offering a special Pig Out rate from C$153 per night over the May 1-3 weekend for those who want to make it a weekend getaway.

Drinking and … running?

A very unusual event will take place May 22 through 24, which is the fifth annual Half Corked Marathon weekend. Participants are encouraged to sample wines from the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association, paired with celebrated regional cuisine from local chefs, restaurateurs and café owners, as they run or jog along an 18 kilometer (11 mile) route.

Festivities start on May 22 with a registration party at the Oliver Visitor Centre followed by the Primavera Dinner, which organizers call the ultimate pre-race pasta dinner. Created by the renowned Joy Road Catering, the family-style dinner amongst rows of budding grapevines in Church & State Winery will include rustic pastas, salads, and wines from Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country.

On Saturday, groups of 250-300 runners will set off in four waves, either running or jogging along the route. While tickets to the race are already sold out, those not running the race can join in the fun at the Finish Line celebration, which will include an awards ceremony. A C$25 ticket will buy three wine tastings, a picnic lunch and souvenir wine glass.

With 36 wineries in the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association, including five new members opening this spring and summer, there’s a local wine to match every Okanagan occasion. For more information on all events visit the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association website.

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